''Winning'' Debates

Feb 2019
928
Serbia
When it comes to arguments or debates I've sometimes seen a concept of ''winning'' get brought up. I'm wondering what it means to ''win'', from my experience when people debate on an issue they usually agree on some points and disagree on others, eventually finding a common ground. Alternatively, if people have no points on which they agree with they can ''agree to disagree'' and leave each other be. In either case it is mostly beneficial to debate as it can expand one's point of view and both sides can learn something from each other even if they don't agree.

This said: What is a ''victory'' in a debate? If it's finding common ground then which side actually wins? Or do both of them win? If it's changing someone's mind I find that this rarely happens. In many cases people form opinions based on their own interpretations of facts and will mostly stick to them, not allowing their minds to be changed so easily. When people who get the wrong information or a flawed opinion based on said wrong information they often ''lose'' in the eyes of most people. However people who actually admit their mistakes are not too common from my experience and either leave, still believing their misinformation or just resort to fallacies and try to form escape routes to justify their views or reduce their mistakes. And finally, is a ''victory'' in a debate discrediting someone and degrading them? I can understand why this can happen, especially in emotionally charged discussions but is this behaviour beneficial to the advance of ideas that can happen due to debates?

What are your thoughts? What constitutes a ''victory'' in a debate? Is it even possible to win and if yes, is it actually beneficial?
 
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Mar 2018
837
UK
In a formal competition debate, winning is determined by judges. Things like rhetoric skill, following structures, and so on count for a lot.

In an everyday sense, winning a debate is more along the lines of what Futurist says. A President wins a debate if he can convince the audience that his original views were correct and his opponent's were wrong.

A more enlightened definition would be to have adjusted your views/knowledge/opinion between the start and end of the debate such that, looking back, you prefer where you ended up than where you started. Perhaps bonus points if you have changed your interlocutor in the same way. Frankly, debate should be viewed as a way of improving oneself and others, not as a win/lose thing.
 
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Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
8,175
România
A victory in a debate would presumably consist of gathering sufficient evidence to conclusively debunk all of the arguments of one's opponent, no?
That's how I view it.

There are many studies like the ones mentioned here:

Why People Ignore Facts

Why people don’t change their minds — even when faced with the facts | MinnPost

It's quixotic to engage in debates with the sole goal of changing people's minds, since they tend to be stubborn (you don't even need the studies, I think everyone figured this out based on personal experience). It's healthier to do it for self-improvement and/or fun and view changing someone's mind as a sort of bonus that you get once in a while.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,181
Italy, Lago Maggiore
On internet there is a particular phenomenon: LWS [Last Word Syndrome]. It's a kind of obsession, at the limit of a paranoid disturb. It's not about "winning" a debate, but about to make the other participants to the discussion get so tired to reply to your merely rhetorical contributions that you will post the last message.

On Historum this behavior, when it becomes pathological, has sanctioned.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,239
SoCal
That's how I view it.

There are many studies like the ones mentioned here:

Why People Ignore Facts

Why people don’t change their minds — even when faced with the facts | MinnPost

It's quixotic to engage in debates with the sole goal of changing people's minds, since they tend to be stubborn (you don't even need the studies, I think everyone figured this out based on personal experience). It's healthier to do it for self-improvement and/or fun and view changing someone's mind as a sort of bonus that you get once in a while.
Interestingly enough, some people believe that even fact-checking websites themselves are biased. Seriously.
 

Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
8,175
România
Interestingly enough, some people believe that even fact-checking websites themselves are biased. Seriously.
Yeah, my first link contained this:

We often react to opinions we disagree with defensively, viewing them as threats to our identity. We also do the same with facts: When confronted with facts we disagree with, we often do not change our perceptions. Past research suggested the possibility that fact-checking could lead to a “backfire effect,” causing people to double down and become even more stubborn in their beliefs. Facebook discovered, for instance, that warning users that an article was false caused people to share that article even more. While the notion of a “backfire effect” is alarming, more recent research undercuts the idea, suggesting that fact-checking, if done properly, can often successfully correct misperceptions.

However, research suggests that correcting misperceptions isn’t enough to change behavior. For instance, one study found that successfully correcting the false belief that vaccines cause autism didn’t actually encourage some parents to vaccinate their children.
 
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